Social actions at air navigation service provider skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

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sn26567
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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by sn26567 »

Thanks phoenixx for explaining how the 'agreement' got a 2/3 majority. Or not? Because for me it should be 2/3 + 1 to be a 2/3 majority.
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mvg
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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by mvg »

@Phoenixx

Two things come up after reading your explanation (thanks for it, by the way):

1) the CEO is from CD&V so not really the same side as ACOD... How do you explain this?

2) the rules of the company are such that with 8 votes out of 12 decisions can be made. Skeyes is a company with Atcos (a minority of the employees) and many other types employees (a big majority): what else can you expect as a minority? Isn’t it called democracy?

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by Phoenixx »

Well the rules specify 2/3, because 2/3 +1 would be 75 percent already (9/12).

Our CEO has goals in mind, and he wants to get there one way or another.
There is nothing Christian or democratic about violating rules and laws and then changing them afterwards to be compliant.
They are each others means to the end they are after.

While I agree very much on the importance of democracy, you see there is something dodgy in this situation right?
A union supposedly representing only 1/3 of all unionized Belgocontrol staff (not even 1/3 of all staff), with only around 10 air traffic controllers in their members that don't even agree on this deal either, accepting a deal for all air traffic controllers? (255 people they do not represent)
And this is called democracy then?

This deal did not involve measures for administrative staff and made only minor changes in non atco matters to a previous deal acod solo accepted all the same. I don't see a majority of the staff benefitting this time. This was a deal about atcos, so would have been 'nice' if acod at least had the decency to admit that while they might have the legal right to sign, they were not in the correct place to do so.

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by mvg »

@Phoenixx

I can understand your frustrations but this is the way Skeyes is functioning. Those rules have been set up (in laws) and the role of the unions is paramount.

Management is indeed using those rules to have their proposals accepted but this is just what the game is about!
Everyone uses the rules when it suits his needs.
So do controllers when it’s about stealing hours, breaking the rules when they are working every day, calling sick when they are not (not always but that happens) and so on.
What do controllers want? Work in a company that does what they want, that adapts the rules to their sole needs and that lets them work as they feel it’s the best?
Well Skeyes isn’t the right place for that. Controllers are only a tiny minority of the employees, it still depends on the State (with all those kind of rules and objectives to achieve).
Of course management also has to follow the rules but at some point you have to realize that your job is to control traffic and that the management is there to manage the company.
Their proposals should at least be given a chance to be put in place and see if they bring results. In any other company it would be like that.
Here we only see that controllers are refusing whatever they are given and whatever is not what they want.


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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by sn26567 »

Just two remarks:

1. How can the situation improve with ATCOs working less hours?

2. How can one consider that an agreement has been reached when a large majority of the ATCOs is against the agreement? It seems to me that there is an agreement only if it is approved by a majority on BOTH sides of the negotiating table.
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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by jan_olieslagers »

@André: the exact same thoughts came to me, too. But it seems more and more clear that Belgocontrol exists in a universum of its own, with perhaps even a different concept of gravity, let alone such details as democracy and logic. Small wonder that mediation does not work, there.

And perhaps slightly off-topic: German DFS seems to suffer from staff shortage, too. For those who can make out the local language: https://www.pilotundflugzeug.de/forum/2 ... 20,4529211

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by Phoenixx »

mvg wrote:
12 May 2019, 06:53
@Phoenixx

I can understand your frustrations but this is the way Skeyes is functioning. Those rules have been set up (in laws) and the role of the unions is paramount.

Management is indeed using those rules to have their proposals accepted but this is just what the game is about!
Everyone uses the rules when it suits his needs.
So do controllers when it’s about stealing hours, breaking the rules when they are working every day, calling sick when they are not (not always but that happens) and so on.
What do controllers want? Work in a company that does what they want, that adapts the rules to their sole needs and that lets them work as they feel it’s the best?
Well Skeyes isn’t the right place for that. Controllers are only a tiny minority of the employees, it still depends on the State (with all those kind of rules and objectives to achieve).
Of course management also has to follow the rules but at some point you have to realize that your job is to control traffic and that the management is there to manage the company.
Their proposals should at least be given a chance to be put in place and see if they bring results. In any other company it would be like that.
Here we only see that controllers are refusing whatever they are given and whatever is not what they want.
While I appreciate the core of your logic, you must have missed a few of my earlier posts.
- I find it difficult to call this a way of 'functioning', malfunctioning seems more appropriate.
- The previous agreement voted on the PC literally includes an article overruling a European law, supposedly excluding Belgocontrol of the obligation to follow it.
This is ofcourse complete nonsense, we will take this to court among with all the other things we already did. But while the other points are open to the judges interpretation, they can not win this one, their own lawyers know this too.
It simply buys them a bit more time to do what they want untill a judge forces them to comply.
And then, just like now, there will be a "sudden unexpected shortage" and they will ask goodwill to solve it (a joke if you had to fight for 2-3 years to get the law applied in the first place), and since they won't get it, they will take to the next best thing to enforce it. And we will take them to court for this all the same.
They are non stop making holes to close the previous holes, essentially solving nothing.
- If the management would actually manage the company with respect for the rules or for us, we would let them.
But they don't, so we don't.
- Controllers are not a 'tiny minority', there are 265 of us.
10-15 are with acod and none of them agree on this offer as far as I know. No other staff members benefit from this agreement.
Have you read it? "atco this, atco that, service continuity importance, loss of rights for atcos, change of rules for atcos and increased management power, listed in between disclaimers and statements that benefit the CEO."
There is no greater good benefit here, no needs of the many vs rights/needs of the few or however you want to call it, except their precious continuity.
"Safety is in our DNA" he said, for atcos maybe, but this CEO has only numbers floating in his veins.

I know we are not the center of the universe, I agree we shouldn't have our every demand met, but this is the exact opposite.
Not one of our important points got met and we simply got the ACOD trick in our back, again, for the third time.
Untill you change a rule, you are ought to follow it.
As long as you are subject to a law, you're supposed to do the same here, and its not because your employees rights don't match with your target numbers, that you can just discard them of start cancelling whatever you see fit.

A while ago, i posed a hypothetical question to a user (i believe 767copilot) on how many times he would give his ex a new chance. Same story here. We know how this offer came to the table and how it got 'accepted', we know what this offer includes and means, we know who made it and what his mindset was.
This is just same old, same old in a new coat. Giving this a chance means more of the same and worse.

His interview in terzake was a load of lies and pr talk.
Controllers refuse this offer because it solves absolutely nothing.
He used this situation to push something through he has been after for years, and he found the perfect way to wrap and sell it.
Making a nightshift 8 instead of 10 hours will not reduce our fatigue, on the contrary. Early shifts have to start earlier and late shifts have to stay longer.
While it might (big questionmark) reduce our number of hours per week, it actually means working more days per month, making the whole balance problem worse.

They consider the agreement reached, valid and good because it suits them. And while I have to admit that this one is indeed valid according to the rules, any person claiming this is a good, democratic or fair agreement has no clue what they are talking about. They lie non-stop in the media about everything, and we have nothing but anonymous testimonies left to respond.
We got to the point where unions and even some courtcases can not help us anymore (they are overruled or discarded in a very dirty way) because he simply finds a way around.

The only options he leaves us are to accept and shut up or to take action.
Well...

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by mvg »

Hi Phoenixx,

Sorry to say but some of your statements aren't correct.

The way Skeyes is functioning (or malfunctioning, depending on the point of view but irrelevant anyway) is the way it has been working since its creation (and well defined by rules/laws). It was well explained in your previous posts: they need 2/3 of the votes to implement new rules. Half the votes come from management and the other half from the unions.
This is it!
When this way of functioning was advantageous for the controllers in the past, nobody was complaining. Now that it's not so much anymore, you say it's not correct... You may call it old fashioned, but until today, these are the rules and nobody (management, unions, employees) can change them. It is a typical way of functioning for former state owned companies.

About the article overuling the European law: they still have the right to do this. Let's see if a court tells them to withdraw it. But we all know that many European rules aren't followed and that following all of them would not be very positive either for the Atcos.

About the respect of the management for their controllers: we agree. By the way the interview on VRT was shocking. BUT about the CEO, because he is your main problem: controllers always think they know better than anyone else but now they are facing a wall, a person who will never give up and use all possible tricks to achieve his goals. Sometimes borderline tricks. Unions are starting to give up: he is too strong and he was put there to sort out the mess! Since the beginning. It's on its way and unless a decision coming from very high is made, you won't get rid of him and will have to follow what he says. You are facing a person who is more capable than controllers to negociate! Because it's not your job to do that (and unions aren't at his level either).
You know his plans for the company, don't you? Everyone knows...

About controllers being a minority: of course you are a tiny minority in the company! 265 out of (around) 1000 employees: how else do you call this? Yes ACOD only represents a few Atcos (not even agreeing with the proposals themselves) but there is no change of rule that is supposed to be negociated at the Atco's level only. "Paritair comité" (PC) is at the company's level, not at the Atco's level. You are indeed not being listened to because you are only a small part of the business.
And to change it, to be more represented, to be only ones, you gonna have to be privatized. Because under the current rules, even if that frustrates many of you, you have little to say, apart from striking when decisions made democratically (= following the rules of the company, decided by the governement) do not suit you.
That is one of the little disadvantages of having a State nominated job. Atcos want the job security and all the advantages (never fired, good salary, unlimited sickness, and so on) of a State employee but don't want the rules that come with it (when they don't suit them).

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by KriVa »

So 25% of your employees is a tiny minority? In that case every group of employees is a tiny minority for whom the rules shouldn’t necessarily be followed, as longs as it benefits the end result. 25% is not tiny, nor is it a minority. It’s not “25% against the rest”, it’s 25% of the total employee count.
On top of that, this proposal was only relevant for ATCOs, do you really think the union with hardly any ATCOs amongst its members, and of those none of them agreed with the proposal, should ethically vote yes when the other unions representing the vast majority of ATCOs vote no?
I get your point, and it would certainly be valid we’re this a proposal for other employees than only the ATCOs. But it wasn’t, so ACOD should have just kept their decision for themselves. Keep in mind I’m not talking about the legality of it all, that part has been covered, I’m talking about the ethics.
And to be fair... yes, we do know better what fatigue does to our bodies than somebody who has never held a microphone in their lives. We do know better what it feels like to be in a shift pattern where 10-11-12 days in a row is rather rule than exception. We do know what it feels like to be short staffed by 25%. Some other people only see the effect of that in numbers at the end of the month, but don’t have to live through it.

And some of the tricks you’re talking about can hardly be called borderline...
Thomas

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by mvg »

That’s where things have to change: if you want to have something to say even though you only represent a quarter of the employees, then feel free to create your own company, independent from the State with all it means.
“Something to say” means in Skeyes, according to the way it is functioning, having 2/3 of the votes in a paritair comité. And Atcos didn’t have it. Management did.

Yes that decision was about changes concerning Atcos. When management made hard decisions downgrading conditions in other services of the company, where were the Atcos ? Where was their ethic?
These are the rules, there is no ethic in such rules, like in many other sectors. There is a management and there are workers. One side manages and the other one works.
Many of us know what working hard is. The decisions are made to hopefully give you a better future and better rosters. Why don’t you give them a chance? Your conditions are just brilliant (discussed a lot before), you work max 4 hours per shift, there is little traffic compared to many places in Europe: when will this end? When will airlines and passengers finally get a continuous service which they pay (a lot) for?

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by KriVa »

I’m sorry mvg, but you obviously don’t know what our job entails. Having 10,15 or 20 aircraft on frequency is not tiring, it’s demanding, you thrive from it. The tiring, fatiguing part is having only two aircraft on frequency still light years away from each other. We’ve gone through the amount of hours we work per shift before, they’re not significantly different from other comparable ANSPs, nor are we working less than industry standard, on the contrary.
Airlines and passengers got that continuous service you’re talking about for the better part of five years, while pretty much every sector was understaffed. Hardly any flight were impacted while multiple sectors went from understaffing to seven understaffing. ATCOs decided to play ball and show some flexibility, a lot of it even, and gave those new “solutions” a chance. Guess what? Nothing changed.
And now you’d like us to lie down and just Suck up the ounces again? Will it really take two aircraft getting perilously close to each other, or even hitting each other, before some people realise that the limit has been reached?
Thomas

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by mvg »

Dear Kriva,
Anyone who follows this thread will make his opinion about if I know your job or not 🙄

By the way, no controller has ever had 20 planes at the same time on the frequency. Never! And certainly not in Belgium! Even 15 would not happen! (Talking about aircraft flying (not at their parking stand) and in contact on a single frequency). Give us ONE example of a day/hour with such an amount of traffic and I’ll say you are right about my knowledge of your job.

About the hours worked per shift, we have gone through it indeed and I hope you asked your colleagues from other countries. None of them works so little.
But let’s make a small calculation to make it understandable by everyone: ACC west in CANAC stays on a single sector 24/24 (confirmed before by an Atco here). One sector means two Atcos working (one talking and a planner): how many Atcos are present per shift for West on a morning during the week?
If they are 4, two work an hour and the other two the following hour, and so on. Shifts lasts for 6 hours as the afternoons are coming at 14.00. So that means 3 hours per controller per shift.
Out of those 3 hours, one Atcos is talking (on the frequency) during two hours + 1 hour planner and the other one is ONE hour on the frequency + two as planner. Did you say stressful?
If they are more than 4 per shift, it’s even less.
So what’s your answer? How many per shift? Then we can count...

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by Phoenixx »

Hi mvg,

We disagree completely on the subject and we are starting to talk about different things, so to keep this thread on topic I Will stop answering to this part after this comment.
2/3 of the votes does not mean half from management and half from unions, 2/3 of the votes means all of management (3/4) and 1/4 of unions. In no way was there an employee majority (like you claim) agreeing on this offer, not in union count, not in representation count, not in absolute staffing count, in no way whatsoever.

Airlines and passengers will get the service they pay for when there is the correct and responsible amount of staff for the maximum traffic they would like to have flying around. It's that simple.

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by mvg »

Hi Phoenixx,

No worries.

And there is no misunderstanding.
2/3 of the (12) votes are necessary for a new rule to be implemented.
Half of the votes coming from the management (6 votes) and half from the unions (6 votes being 3 for ACV, 2 for ACOD and one for VSOA).

There was a majority (2/3 (or 8 votes out of 12) as necessary) in the paritair comité who agreed, that majority being made of 6 votes from management and 2 from ACOD. That’s how a paritair comité in Skeyes has been defined. The rest is just comment, wishes or whatever, but it’s not how it works...

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by KriVa »

So you’re discounting the approach frequency then? 15 aircraft, though not often, does happen there.
And I wouldn’t exactly call ground or tower control calm. It’s a different way of working, sure, but that in itself doesn’t make it any less demanding or complex.
I did not say you haven’t got a clue about the job, you’ve far beyond proven that you do. I said you don’t seem to know, or care about, what the job actually entails, there’s quite a big difference there.
You discount moments of low traffic as being easy, nothing to worry about. Big mistakes hardly ever happen during the busy hours on a frequency, and almost always when an ATCO is only talking to two, maximum three aircraft.(in general, this is not only true for Belgium.)
Do you see why “low traffic” actually doesn’t really disqualify or qualify anything in terms of being fatiguing?
On top of that, even though we may not have the busiest airspace in the world, by far, Belgian airspace is not to be underestimated in terms of complexity. That, again, doesn’t qualify or disqualify a specific sector for being tiring, but it all adds up.

On working hours: on a day of 7 hours available on sector, I guess I work about 4,5 hours, depending on whether training is going on. Again, not too different from other ANSPs. A lot depends on traffic and seasons as well. Some days are busier than others, on some days sectors remain decollapsed for longer than others, and extra people may be necessary for other reasons (WX, emergency traffic,...). Something that’s also taken into account for staffing purposes.

As a final note, let me ask you this: do you work in shift patterns? Do you know what fatigue does to the human body in the long run? I’m not talking about working shifts for a few weeks, I’m talking about what it does to you over a period of years. That’s the entire issue where people are disgruntled now. There’s nothing wrong with “going the extra mile” for a few weeks, or even months, but when rosters are this relentless and fatiguing for months and years on end, that’s when safety starts to take a hit, and that’s what we’re trying to avoid now.
That’s also why pretty much all ATCOs are furious that none of the 27 demands laid out have even been acknowledged, let alone addressed.
Thomas

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by convair »

I disapprove of any abuse of the system, be it by the atcos or by the management. However, if some of the atcos consider that skeyes' procedures (even those decided by a "paritair" committee) contravene with the EU regulations, they have every right (obligation maybe) to fight them imho.

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by mvg »

@Kriva

About those 15 planes at the same time on the frequency at Brussels Approach: if that happens and the final (second arrival sector) isn’t open to split the traffic on two frequencies, then it’s a professional mistake. So no, I do not believe it happens, sorry. Far from it!

You are right to say that the less busy hours are those when it is more likely to have conflicts. But when it’s less busy on a sector, you don’t put extra people either. So that means that if it’s less busy (for example at ACC), sectors can be closed and people have more break: that’s good!

You say you work 4.5 hours on a 7 hours shift. I don’t know in which unit you work (and feel free to keep it for yourself) but the question I asked was about ACC west (as an example). One sector - two controllers at a time for a morning shift: how many are they to cover that morning shift? Then we can easily count if they work 4.5 hours out of 7.
There are of course, as you mention, exceptional circumstances like bad weather, emergencies and so on. But what your management has noticed, if we take that example of ACC west sector again is that 99,99% of the time it is always collapsed onto 1 sector (3 sectors on 1). So why would they roster personnel for more than one sector if it is never open? That is using the resources where and when they are needed. I find it good management.
As far as the communication is concerned and breaking the rules, it is of course not a good way to manage.

But in general, and I think it’s where controllers are wrong, there is a system with its advantages and disadvantages. We have been talking through it a lot. When that system puts Atcos into a position which they don’t like, they are protesting. When other employees from the company are faced with similar changes, not a single Atco is doing anything. Example: meteo was drastically rationalized: have you heard one Atco wanting to strike to defend them? Like you, they couldn’t say much because they were not represented like they wished. That’s how a paritair comité works! And all the other services have gone through the same reforms as you and they survived.

What I mean is that Atcos have a power like no other service in Skeyes. Who cares if Met officers start to strike?
That will be annoying but it won’t stop the traffic. Atcos have the power to annoy thousands of people as soon as they disagree. Even for things that normal people would not even dare to think of. That has to stop. There are conditions on the table set up by the management: work them or find another job please. Hundreds of able people are ready to accept such conditions. Private foreign companies are ready to step in. No problem.

Finally about your last paragraph and the personal questions, the answers are yes, I know what it is all about. Probably more than many of the Atcos who are complaining.

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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by Phoenixx »

mvg wrote:
13 May 2019, 16:04
But in general, and I think it’s where controllers are wrong, there is a system with its advantages and disadvantages. We have been talking through it a lot. When that system puts Atcos into a position which they don’t like, they are protesting. When other employees from the company are faced with similar changes, not a single Atco is doing anything. Example: meteo was drastically rationalized: have you heard one Atco wanting to strike to defend them? Like you, they couldn’t say much because they were not represented like they wished. That’s how a paritair comité works! And all the other services have gone through the same reforms as you and they survived.

What I mean is that Atcos have a power like no other service in Skeyes. Who cares if Met officers start to strike?
That will be annoying but it won’t stop the traffic. Atcos have the power to annoy thousands of people as soon as they disagree. Even for things that normal people would not even dare to think of. That has to stop. There are conditions on the table set up by the management: work them or find another job please. Hundreds of able people are ready to accept such conditions. Private foreign companies are ready to step in. No problem.
What bothers me about your logic is the way you defend the system at skeyes, but you forget évery group of staff is a minority by itself.
The way a paritair comité should work is that unions are expected to stand WITH the employees and to not accept an offer as it is when that means screwing one group over, that should be their job.

You seem to forget by the way, the whole reason management was able to do this, is because we 'joined forces' with the meteo and technicians, so your statement is very debatable.
ACOD sold us off in return for their bonuses and improved conditions.
And even though it is not the fault of the men and women of the meteo or the technical department at all, I can say I very much regret this, and many atcos with me.

I often hear "that's what you signed up for, if you don't like it, leave"
But that's the whole point, this is not what we signed up for.
This is a one sided change of working conditions.
This is exactly why there is so much outrage.
Do you honestly believe management should be able to do whatever they want and be able to change whatever they want as it pleases them? They have a word for that last time I checked, that would be a dictatorship.

mvg
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Re: Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Post by mvg »

Hi Phoenixx,

It's not about defending the system at Skeyes. In every company there has to be a "system" to make it work.
By the way, that "system" was put in place in 1998: most probably before you joined the company so it's nothing new! It is very similar to how other companies are working and nowhere are minorities represented like the controllers would like them to be!
Therefore you would need to create your own company with only Atcos and the other services from Skeyes would have to do the same. Imagine the mess... And think of all the rights you would lose if you are not State employee anymore.
You work for a company with lots of politics involved, lots of deals under the table and people selling agreements for their own little profit (including controllers who are certainly not the less selfish).
Didn't you and your colleagues check that before applying there?
That does not mean of course that it is good. But those tricks are used by all parties (including unions) when it suits them best. It's the game! Typical game in our country, isn't it?

In this case it may look like a one sided change of working conditions and in your case I wouldn't probably be happy either. But these are the rules and for example when a pilot isn't happy about his working conditions and nothing can be done about it, he just has the courage to find a job somewhere else. Atcos from Skeyes don't have that courage or they don't want to because they won't find better conditions anywhere else! So they keep on complaining and consequently bothering thousands of people. This is the problem!

People do not care about your little stories. And please let's stop putting safety in the conversation each time. There is no problem. There have been incidents in the past and there will be incidents again, no matter what is changed to your conditions. The results from the last two years are just better than ever before (we can discuss the reasons). It can't be better in the next years as the (important) incidents were brought to zero... So that's not gonna be due to difficult conditions, it's just logic.

I also notice that after asking twice how many Atcos were rostered per shift for a morning at ACC (for one sector manned by two Atcos) nobody gave an answer. Is it because we could then easily see that an Atco does not work 4,5 hours per shift? Or should we say not even 3,5 hours per shift?

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